Births, engagements, and marriages are considered to be auspicious occasions or tha ye while sickness and death fall into nga ye or sad occasions. When a woman has given birth, it is usual for her friends and colleagues to give gifts such as feeding bottles and clothes. Gifts should never be given before the baby’s birth as some women are superstitious that this will bring misfortune to the baby. When the baby is 100 days old, a name-giving ceremony is usually held. Monks will be invited to chant prayers and bless the baby and in turn meals will be offered to all participants.
Some couples who are getting engaged may throw a party for their families and friends .Guests of honour at such parties are couples who have long and happy marriages. On such an occasion, the male guest of honour will give a speech to extol the virtues of the bride-to-be on behalf of the bridegroom’s parents. If you are invited to an engagement party, you may or may not bring any gift.
Couples in Myanmar are married by registering at the registrar of marriages or by going through a ceremony conducted by a respectable couple at a grand hotel or by sheer mutual consent with no ceremony at all.
Suitable wedding gifts depend on the couple’s station n life. If they are young and are not financially stable, a cash gift in multiple of hundred (to symbolise a long life) is suitable. Otherwise, functional items such as crockery, electrical appliances, and pieces of cloth make excellent gifts, Gifts that are taboo include scissors, knives and anything black in color. Among office colleagues, a collection will normally be made to buy a gift for the couple or give the cash collection outright.
When a person is seriously ill, his or her relatives and friends are normally informed. Once informed, the friend or relative has an obligation to visit the sick person. Normally, gifts on such occasions would be fresh fruits or canned cereals. Many old traditional Myanmar are reluctant to be admitted into hospitals. However, with improvements in medical science, this attitude is changing. When a person dies at home, the body is bathed and dressed in the person’s best clothes. A monk will be invited to chant prayers. The funeral will usually take place three or five days after the day of death.
During the interim period, a wake will be held. During the wake, members of the deceased’s family keep vigil during the nights. Visitors who come to pay their last respects to the deceased are often served tea and black melon seeds. If a person dies in a hospital or elsewhere, the corpse id usually placed in a morgue. However, the wake will still be held at the home of the deceased.
Burial is still common in Myanmar but cremation is also performed. The recitation is also performed. The recitation of prayers by monks is part and parcel of a funeral. If one is informed of the death of the death of a friend, it is necessary to send a letter, or telegram if one is unable to visit the deceased’s family or attend the funeral. Failure to do this is insulting to the deceased’s family. Donations are usually given if the deceased ‘s family is financially backward. When you are attending a funeral, do not wear bright e celebrate this festival to rejoice in a good harvest. Also celebrate in January is the Equestrian Festival which dates back to ancient times.
Falling in April, the Water Festival (or Thingyan) is celebrated for three days to usher in the Myanmar New Year. In the cities and towns, makeshift pavilions with stages for singing and dancing are erected, and barrels are filled with water. Young people dance and sing on the stages and throw water on all and sundry. It is believed that being drenched with Thingyan water washes away one’s sin and bad luck. Decorative floats may also take part in processions.
The Kasone Festival usually falls in May. It was on the full-moon day of the Myanmar month of Kasone that Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment and passed away . As Buddha had attained Enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree, the grounds of pagodas and monasteries are planted with many of such trees. On this day, people carry earthenware pots filled with water and water the Bodhi trees. Processions are also held in temple grounds.
The Waso Robe-Offering is performed to commemorate Buddha’s first sermon, and falls on the full moon day in June or July. The day also marks the beginning of the Buddhist Lent. At pagodas, monks are offered free meals and a robe-giving ceremony is performed with pomp and pageantry by disciples.
On the full-moon day of Thadingyut (usually in October), the Festival of Lights is celebrated to mark the descent of Buddha from Tavadinsa or the abode of devas. Arounf this day, pagodas, buildings, public parks and houses are decorated with strings of electric bulns, oil lanterns, or candles, and young people pay respect to their elders by offering them gifts of fruits, cakes or pieces of textiles.
In the Myanmar month of Tazaungmone which corresponds to either October or November, the Kahtein Robe-Offering is performed. This occasion is similar to the Waso Robe-Offering, Also celebrated in Tazaungmone is Tazaungdaing, a second Festival of Lights. At many pagodas through the country, all- night robe-weaving contests are held. The finished robes , which must be completed before daylight, are offered to Buddha images in the pagodas.Christmas is celebrated by those who have accepted the Christian creed with carol singing, parties, and midnight masses, just like in other parts of the world.